I’ve been thinking about family lately. Go figure, since it’s around the holiday season. Certainly many of us gather with our natural family members, those who are our natural father, mother, brothers and sisters and so on. But who does our Lord consider family? Here’s a clue from Scripture.
31 Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. 32 And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers[e] are outside seeking You.”
33 But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” 34 And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35)
It’s pretty clear isn’t it. Those who do the will of God are His brothers and sisters. So where does that leave us as disciples of Christ? Certainly we are brothers and sisters to each other as well. We are a family unto each other right?
So here’s something to consider. I might be going down a scary road here for some, but stick with me. If the disciples of Christ, those who are saved by faith in Christ and His atoning blood, then where does that leave our natural family members? I believe it leaves them on the outside. Furthermore I would think our brothers and sisters in Christ come first at times, even before our natural family. That’s a very astonishing statement isn’t it? I want to build my case further upon Scripture though.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)
If we believe Scripture is our guidance along with how we are led by the Holy Spirit, then we can have a firm foundation and assurance in Christ Jesus. For there will be nothing to argue or contend about if we consider the following.
I do not believe that in every case all our family members will be in Heaven with Christ. Even if a pastor, priest or some other person tries to tell us such when a loved one passes on. Jesus has forewarned us and tells us plainly in Scripture. He is quoted as saying the following.
49 “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! 51 Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. 52 For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. 53 Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-53)
Now consider how this is recorded in Matthew
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Mat. 10:34-39)
So not only can a family be divided by the testimony of Christ, but our Christ goes on to state that if we love our father or mother or son or daughter more than He then we are not worthy of Him. We are not worthy to follow Him into His kingdom! That can even include our spouses, right? What an astonishing thought!
Here is where I want to point to putting our brothers and sisters in Christ first. Right after the warning about divisions within a family, Christ is quoted saying this.
40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” (Mat. 10:40-42)
Naturally this does not mean we are to have no affiliation with our natural family members. Where possible we should have open and loving relations with our family members. For by such it is possible to win them over to Christ by our example.
Sadly there are times where family members aren’t as receptive and mistake our humility and lovingkindness as weakness. In such cases it may be more beneficial to separate. I can give no specific advice to any particular situation. But I can point to Christ who can guide you. If I know you I might be able to at least lend an ear, give constructive feedback and or pray with you. But Christ ultimately opens our eyes as to how to react.
In conclusion brethren, our walk is not easy. We are swim against the current of the world. The current is not as strong when we are walking in the Spirit. For Christ has said to take on His yoke, for it is easy and the burden light.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Let us press on and persevere. Having the patience of the Saints. Full of Grace and Mercy for those in Christ as well as our enemies. Blessings in Christ Jesus!